The author of Luke's Gospel (1:1-4) and the Acts of the Apostles prefaced his works with a reference to the "many others" who preceded him in the attempt to "set the record straight" concerning the events that had transpired during the life of Jesus and the first decades of the Christian church. In compiling this present study, I owe a great debt of gratitude to Luke, Paul and the many other scholars, theologians and, as Luke would say, "servants of the word" who followed after the halcyon days of the earliest Christian movement. Like Luke and Paul, but perhaps without Luke's skill at "telling a good yarn" or Paul's rhetorical agility, I too have attempted in the following pages to "set the record straight" concerning the crisis in Galatia. And like Luke and Paul, my aim is not simply to recover and reconstruct the events surrounding this significant event, but to draw lessons from the exercise that have significant bearing on how we deal with the vicissitudes of Christian life today.
The writing of this monograph, which began its life almost a decade ago as a doctoral thesis, would not have been possible without the generous support of a number of people. To begin, I must offer my thanks to Associate Professor David C. Sim, my doctoral supervisor, without whose encouragement, albeit sometimes vociferous, this work would never have been completed. He was ably supported by my two co-supervisors, Professor Pauline Allen and Associate Professor James McLaren. I am sure that we will all be spared many years in purgatory as a reward for our perseverance. I would also like to thank my examiners, Professor John Barclay, Professor John Riches, and Dr. Keith Dyer, whose reports helped me clarify and improve the argument of the thesis in several key areas.
Research is always a community effort, and my research is no different. Hence, I want to recognise the efforts of fellow scholars at Australian Catholic University who supported this endeavour in many ways. In particular, I would like to acknowledge Professor Pauline Allen and the members of the Centre for Early Christian Studies who provided a forum for me to test out my ideas. The various Heads of the School of Theology at ACU, in particular Associate Professor Gerard Hall, gave me the opportunity to teach and, therefore, keep life and limb together while I conducted my research. The Brisbane campus of ACU has over the years been blessed with many generous and caring individuals, and I have benefited from their friendship and support - especially the other members of the School of Theology, from whose number I must name Ms. Fran Wilkinson, Dr. Anne Tuohy, Professor Tony Kelly, Dr. Margaret Hannan, Dr. Alan Moss, Dr. Damien Casey, Mr. Yuri Kosarycz, Associate Professor Mary Coloe, and Dr. Terry Veling.
Special thanks must go to Professors Jörg Frey and Friedrich Avemarie for accepting the manuscript for publication in Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament and to Ms Tanja Mix, along with the rest of the editorial staff of Mohr Siebeck for their painstaking efforts in assisting me navigate the exegensies of preparing the manuscript for publication.
Finally, I owe a debt of gratitude to my family. I offer my thanks to my parents, Arthur and Claire Elmer, who imparted to me a love for the Catholic faith and a passion for the study of the scriptures. As is fitting, however, I reserve my deepest and most heartfelt appreciation for my wife Linda, for her unfailing patience and love, and for the gift of two children, Christopher and Elizabeth. Linda has been steadfast, courageous and ever supportive of a husband who, in the middle years of life, sought to follow a different path. Together these six people have sustained me throughout the process and kept me from despair when the going got tough. To Arthur, Claire, Linda, Chris and Lizzie, I dedicate this book.
August 15, 2008
Ian J. Elmer